Saturday, 31 March 2018

Walking into Eltham in 1862

The parish church in 1860
 I back with Bradshaw in 1862  continuing  to explore one of the walks laid out in the Illustrated Handbook to London and its Environs.*

The book remains a wonderful snap shot of London in the early 1860s and for the curious 21st century reader here are descriptions on how to cross the city by foot, train and boat as well as what was on offer to the tourist of the period.

“For those who either have seen Woolwich, or prefer postponing their visit thither for a distant excursion, we can especially recommend a deviation from Shooter’s Hill down the inviting green lane that leads to ELTHAM, a pleasant walk of hardly two miles.”

And as you would expect the guide goes into great detail about the Palace, its history and its appearance in 1862 all of which I shall leave you to read yourself.

Partly because the guide does it so well and the publishers may jib at me stealing their book.

Suffice to say it makes fascinating reading and is a good contrast to what can be seen today added to which
I am sure there will be those who fall on the description and speculation about the ancient tunnels.

But for me I shall close with Bradshaw’s instruction to

“go and see Eltham Church; not that it is architecturally remarkable, but in the churchyard will be found a tomb to Doggett the comedian, who bequeathed the coat and badge still rowed for every 1st of August by the ‘jolly young watermen of the Thames.”

One he missed, Well Hall from a photograph taken in 1909
Now this is not as daft as it seems given that this was the old church and vanished not that long after the guide book was finished.

Now I do have to confess to a little disappointment in that this is all we get.

The fine large houses along the High Street and beyond do not get a look in, nor does that fine old pile at Well Hall which had been built in the early 18th century and would last into the 20th.

So having done the Palace and the parish Church our guide was content to announce that it was now time to “get back to Greenwich and go home by railway,” which does however open up the prospect of more walks courtesy of the guide to Woolwich Greenwich and Blackheath.

But these are for another time.

Pictures;  Eltham Church, 1860, & Well Hall 1909,  from The story of Royal Eltham,  R.R.C. Gregory, 1909 and published on The story of Royal Eltham, by Roy Ayers, http://www.gregory.elthamhistory.org.uk/bookpages/i001.htm,

* Bradshaw’s Illustrated Handbook to London and its Environs, 1861, republished in 2012 by Conway 

Friday, 30 March 2018

Reflecting on Mr Amato’s Italian deli and Del’s cakes ...... changing Chorlton no 3

Now when they come to write the history of Beech Road, and they will, there will be a debate on what caused its regeneration.

Buonissimo, 2000
In the mid 1980s many of the shops were closing and it was unclear what the future held.

Just a decade before the road had boasted everything from an iron monger’s two bakeries, three butcher’s and a couple of grocers along with Richard and Murial’s fruit and vegetables business.

And slip back another ten years and you could add a fresh fish outlet, a television shop and much more.

But the onward sweep of supermarkets put an end to these traditional shops and for a while there were more than a few empty ones.

And then along came Primavera followed by the Lead Station and it was clear Beech Road might just be going in a new direction.

I don’t doubt the importance of these two establishments, but for me the tipping point might well have been the opening of the Italian deli in what had once been an off license.

Bob Amato opened it in 1993 and from the beginning Buonissimo was a success, offering a range of fresh food from pasta, to bread, to cakes and all things Italian.

No 56 Beech Road, 1985
Added to which he and his partner Del would order up stuff which were not available from Hanbury’s.

And the importance of Buonissimo was that it was bringing people onto Beech Road during the day, and from there they popped next door to Richard and Murial’s crossing the road to Joy Seal’s the Chemist and the Post Office and wandering up to Richardson’s for a pie or pasty.

Now I am fully prepared to admit that with Richardson’s, Sunflowers and the two butcher’s shops run by David and by Mr Henderson food hadn’t completely vanished from Beech Road.

Nor would I make an exaggerated claim for the role of the deli in regenerating where I live but it helped and what followed were the gift shops, and the bars.

Beech Road, 1975
There will be those who argue that the gift and bar economy has gone too far so that while it is perfectly easy to get some imitation Victorian soap there is no chance of picking up 4lbs of potatoes a bag of grapes and two melons.

On the other hand we still do have a pet shop, along with a new deli, and of course a paper shop.

Looking back Beech Road was the first, and has been followed by similar developments on Wilbraham Road and Barlow Moor Road, although we were beaten to it by Burton Road in West Didsbury which offers up that same mix of shopping experiences.

Beech Road, 2008
Bob and Del are still in the food business and continue to operate their wholesale business from a new building in St Andrew’s Square in town, and I still visit their old deli but now order a selection of tapas and white wine.

Location Beech Road

Pictures; Number 56 Beech Road, 1985, courtesy of Tom McGrath, Beech Road in 1975 from the collection of Tomy Walker, and Buonissimo two decades later and relaxing on Beech Road, 2008, from the collection of Andrew Simpson

*Amato Food Products, http://amatoproducts.co.uk/

What’s new down at Woden Street?

Now the Friends of the Cornbrook to Castlefield Deansgate metro line finally have something to stare at.

Just across the water that “prestigious hotel style development of one, two and three bedroom apartments” offering “riverside living” are beginning to take shape.

And I notice from Andy’s pictures that the name Downtown is prominent.

For a long time this was just an open space with nothing more interesting than channels and pits but not any more.

I suppose if I went looking at the planning consent I would find out how big they will rise, but given that their neighbours are giants these I suspect will follow suit.

And those views of the old brick warehouses will soon be lost, leaving the bored commuter to ponder on what once stood on the site of Downtown.

Well I went looking and I can tell you that in 1893 it was the Irwell Rubber Works which stood beside the Liver Iron Foundry and the Craven Iron Foundry.

And that is all.

Location; Woden Street

Pictures; Woden Street 2018 from the collection of Andy Robertson 

Eltham Church on a March day ........ from the camera of Ryan

Now you can never get enough of pictures of Eltham in my opinion.


And on that I fully accept I am biased for as much as I love my adopted city of Manchester there will always be a bit of me that is Eltham.

So here is one of Ryan’s photographs which he says “whilst out shopping I passed by the St John the Baptist church. 

As I had a great opportunity I thought of several people . 

Eltham is changing so much now I had to take this photo ."

Location; Eltham














Picture; St John’s Eltham, 2017 from the collection of Ryan Ginn

Thursday, 29 March 2018

In the parish graveyard at Eltham

Eltham Church from the north, 1870
I can’t remember the last time I wandered through the parish churchyard but given that I left for Manchester in 1969 it will have been a long time.

Had I done so in 1851 there would have been plenty of gravestones to read many of which dated back to the 17th and 18th centuries.

Not that I intend to record them here.  Instead I want just to reflect on how the church would have appeared from the northern part of the graveyard.

And I have to agree with Sir Stephen Glynne who in 1830 wrote that it was of “a mean fabric, much patched and modernised; with scarce a trace of anything like good work, and from repeated alterations, the plan has become irregular.”*

But no less a place deep in the affections of many local people.

*Sir Stephen Glynne 1830, Churches of Kent

Picture; from The story of Royal Eltham, R.R.C. Gregory, 1909 and published on The story of Royal Eltham, by Roy Ayers, http://www.gregory.elthamhistory.org.uk/bookpages/i001.htm

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

“Rubble at Mill” .......... down by the Duke’s Canal at Hulme Hall Road

It has been sometime since I have featured the story of the building at Hulme Hall Road.

It was a subject I regularly covered as Andy Robertson, visited the site after a fire had ripped through the building, and he then went back recording its demolition.

And now he has returned, with a new series of pictures which I suspect will have the promise of many more.

In the intervening period Derek the Developer has got there and the posters along the side of the site announce “CANALSIDE LIVING IN THE HEART OF HISTORIC MANCHESTER” with "one, two and three bedroom apartments”.to the sky in a huge block

The finished project, judging from the artist’s impression will rise eight stories into the sky.

It is not on a par with the giant towers which are springing up nearby but is in keeping with others in the vicinity.

But it does look big.

So, where once tall warehouses, factories and mills stood by the canal side, we now have equally tall blocks of apartments, reflecting that move from manufacture to "Canalside living".

I could say more but will await events.

That said I will close with the image which prompted Andy’s title of “Rubble at Mill”.

Location; Hulme Hall Road







Pictures; Hulme Hall Road, from the collection of Andy Robertson

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Passing the parish church one Sunday in November and remembering Bradshaw's guide

Now I like Ryan’s picture of Eltham Church which got me thinking about how a modern guide book would describe it.

Back in 1861 Bradshaw’s Illustrated Handbook to London and its Environs reported that visitors should
“go and see Eltham Church; not that it is architecturally remarkable, but in the churchyard will be found a tomb to Doggett the comedian, who bequeathed the coat and badge still rowed for every 1st of August by the ‘jolly young watermen of the Thames.”*

Sadly for anyone using that edition and happening on the church a decade and a bit later they would have been disappointed because it no longer existed having been replaced by the one we know today.

Work on the present church began in 1871 and was finished eight years later  just  3 metres north of the old site and occupying a larger area.

At which point I do have to be careful because those with a much greater knowledge than I will point out that the unfinished building was consecrated in 1875.

The spire was added in 1879 when funds became available and s service of thanksgiving for the completion of the building was conducted by Rev. Walter J Sowerby on 24th June 1880 which is the  feast day of St John the Baptist.**

So there you have it ................ three possible dates for the historian with an eye for detail to go for.

In the meantime I will go looking for a later edition to Bradshaw’s guide book to see if they updated the entry and leave you with this earlier photograph of the parish church from the 1860s.

Back then the clock ticked the hours away and it is nice to know that after some time the clock in Ryan's photograph is again offering up the correct time.



Pictures;  Eltham Church, 2015 from the collection of Ryan Ginn and back in  1860,  from The story of Royal Eltham,  R.R.C. Gregory, 1909 and published on The story of Royal Eltham, by Roy Ayers, http://www.gregory.elthamhistory.org.uk/bookpages/i001.htm,

* Bradshaw’s Illustrated Handbook to London and its Environs, 1861, republished in 2012 by Conway

**Eltham Parish Church,  http://elthamchurch.org.uk/wp/?page_id=2

Remembering Kingspot on Barlow Moor Road

Kingspot, circa 1980s
I went looking for pictures of Kingy today.

It was just one of those places we took for granted and long before Pound Shops it was somewhere you could get a bargain.

Here could be found everything from washing pegs, to happy colourful toys and that fabulous print of the San Francisco Bridge at sunset.

Much of what was on offer was plastic and sometimes I wondered whether they had their own plastic factory somewhere east of Hong Kong.

A post box and a sun shade, May 1959
So it was no surprise that Kingspot was always full and getting round the shop could be a challenge which often involved avoiding the buggies, and shopping trollies as you worked you way down the two isles looking for a washing up bowl and ending up instead with two plastic imitation Flying Ducks to hang above the plastic water fountain.

Our kids always seemed to be in their usually when the latest craze for BB guns hit Chorlton which I suspect followed a few days after a new consignment of cheap toys had arrived from China.

It was no different from when I was growing up.  Back then there seemed to be the regular season for marbles, cap guns and fag cards which on reflection also coincided with the latest shipment of cheap toys from abroad.

In its way Kingy was just a shop version of the market stall, but as we don’t have an old fashioned market in Chorlton this place did the business.

Sitting in the sun,April 1959
It was for a while an institution and there will be many of a certain age with fond memories of the place.

So far only the one picture of the shop has come to light and so I thought I would contrast it with a time before those plastci toys and pegs and pictures were available.

And so here are two taken in the spring of 1959 by Mr Downs who was responsible for many other fine pictures of Chorlton in the 1950's


Shirt sleeves and overcoats on that April day
It was clearly a bright day and some at least of the shop keepers had those canvas sheets over the front of the windows which performed the double task of protecting the display and advertising the business.

Bright as it may have been some waiting by the bus station had opted not to trust that April sun and walked out in overcoat and head scarf.

Others however were just sitting watching events pass by.



Now I first posted the story without that picture of Kingspot and I have Wendy to thank for pointing that it
was already there on the Chorlton facebook site and to Brian who gave me permission to use it  all of which goes to show the power of social networks

And just ours after this story was posted Jean Kingsberry left a new comment Which deserved to be included in the text.

"Thank you for your kind comments.

We rented 360 Barlow Moor Road for 21 years before we were able to buy it.

The flat above was our first home when we got married in 1970, we sold in 2005. My mother-in-law, Eileen lived there from 1972 until she passed away.

Many remember her and the several small dogs she took for walks over the years.

All the family worked in that branch at some time. My father-in-law, Harry, my husband, Keith, our son Craig and daughter Andrea.We retired in 2008, after selling our last shop in Urmston, and now live in Cyprus."

Location; Manchester

Pictures, Kingspot, circa 1980's courtesy of Brian Lee Williams, east side of Barlow Moor Road, May 1959, m17609, and west side by the bust terminus, April 1959, 17610, A H Downs, courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council, http://images.manchester.gov.uk/index.php?session=pass

On Port Street ...... with an update and a little bit more.

Last week I was on Port Street, with a story occasioned by some of Andy Robertson’s pictures and in particular this building.*

Port Street, 2018
Not that long ago it was part of a block from where Goldfayre Trading were located, but now part of the building has gone and what is left won’t be long for the demolisher’s ball.

So as you do, I wandered back in time.  In 1851 this row of properties was home to an iron merchants, a druggist, two spindle makers, and assorted shops.

While directly behind, were two arms of the Rochdale Canal, one of which finished at the back of number 64 while the other ran parallel to Port Street down to Brewer Street.  Between them they served two timber yards, a stone and lime yard and Burn’s Cotton Mill.

Port Street, 1966
They were still there in 1894 and number 64 was still an iron merchants run by the firm of Hall and Pickles who are listed at the address a full 40 years earlier.

A few days later after I had posted the story, Geoff got in touch to say that, "Hall & Pickles are still trading from Poyton. 

One of the country's largest steel distributors. Started in 1812 and still a family business”.

And not to be out done Andy trawled the records and came up with this image of Port Street and that building in 1966.

Location; Manchester

Picture; Port Street, 2018,  from the collection of Andy Robertson and in 1966, W. Higham, m04946, courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council, http://images.manchester.gov.uk/index.php?session=pass

*Port Street ...... waiting for something to happen,  https://chorltonhistory.blogspot.co.uk/2018/03/port-street-waiting-for-something-to.html

Monday, 26 March 2018

Calling in at the parish church on a spring day in 1851 at the start of our Eltham walk

The Old Vicarage from Well Hall Lane, 1833
Now I had planned on starting our walk up the High Street in the spring of 1851 at Sherad House which was roughly on the site now occupied by the Nat West Bank.

But that would be to ignore the church and the vicarage.

So like all best laid plans it has gone out of the window, and instead I am at the corner of Sherard Road which was where Well Hall Lane began.

All of which was a surprise to me given that I have always thought that Well Hall Road began beside the church and the old Burtons and ran north to the station.  But not so, once before the beginning of the last century it had a more devious route and before it was Well Hall Lane had been known as Woolwich Road “so called because it led to Woolwich.”*

And so standing by the beginning of what was Well Hall lane and is now Sherard Road, this is what we would have seen.  In the distance are the old church which was demolished in 1875 and the vicarage.

The Church, circa 1860s
Now the old church was not exactly the most elegant of places leading one writer to comment that it was

“A mean fabric, much patched and modernised; with scarce a trace of anything like good work, and from repeated alterations, the plan has become irregular.”**

But that belies the point that this was a working church at the heart of the community and which underwent alterations partly to reflect its growing use.

So I shall return to the description of the place
“The nave has a south aisle cased in brick, and a north chapel of stone, bearing the date 1667, with square headed, labelled windows, and a door of mixed Italian character.  

The chancel was wholly brick.  At the west end of the nave was a tower of flint, cased with brick, with large Buttresses and pointed doorway.  It was surmounted with a spire of wood, covered with lead (shingle).  

Inside the old Church
Galleries were carried all around the interior of the church, and a double one at the west end, with an organ.  The north chapel opened to the nave by three pointed arches, with octagonal pillars.”

Now at this point I have to confess that much of the story is not original research but comes from that wonderful book, The Royal Story of Eltham, by R.R.C.Gregory, which I will use again when we spend more time in and around the church its vicarage and actually begin the walk up the High Street.

Location; Eltham, Londson

*R.R.C.Gregory The Royal Story of Eltham, 1909

**Sir Stephen Glynne 1830, Churches of Kent

Pictures; from The story of Royal Eltham, R.R.C. Gregory, 1909 and published on The story of Royal Eltham, by Roy Ayers, http://www.gregory.elthamhistory.org.uk/bookpages/i001.htm,


A bus, a holiday home and a restoration project ........ Manchester Corporation 436

Now I like a good story and so much the better if it has already been written.

So naturally when I saw this one posted by Brian from the Museum of Transport Greater Manchester I just scooped it up.

And the rest as they say speaks for itself.

"One of our most precious buses is Manchester Corporation 436 - it's the only surviving pre-war Manchester double decker bus. 

It's awaiting restoration but we're gradually raising funds and you can donate by texting GMTS01 £5 (or £1, £1, £3 or £10) to 70070.

436 is in a pretty poor state right now, having survived for decades as a static caravan in Shropshire. 


But we know a lot about 436, through its maintenance records. The picture shows the first page of its engine maintenance card and if you take some care to inspect it closely it’s full of information. 

For example, in April 1935 when less than a year old it had 'repairs to auxiliary drive, 2 fan belts. 

1 aluminium fan fitted, Crossley Motors' which shows that Crossley did the work under guarantee. As late as October 1948 it had 'soft liners fitted' – this meant cylinder liners.


It also helps if you know some of the codes that MCT used for repair jobs – 'C1' meant cylinder head changed, 'F' meant work on the fuel pump, 'H' meant work on the vacuum exhauster and 'V' denoted that valves had been ground in.

It’s a fascinating window into the work that went in behind the scenes to keep the wheels turning (and still does to maintain our museum collection)”.

Location; Manchester

Pictures; from the collection of Museum of Transport Greater Manchester

* Museum of Transport Greater Manchester, http://www.gmts.co.uk/

Sunday, 25 March 2018

One hundred years of one house in Chorlton part 100 ......... breakfast on Beech Road

The continuing story of the house Joe and Mary Ann Scott lived in for over 50 years and the families that have lived here since.*

Breakfast in 1958
Of course we will never know what Joe and Mary Ann had for breakfast.

And in the half century they lived here, it may well have changed, from those heavy traditional English breakfasts, varied or accompanied by porridge to the new breakfast cereals which began to make their appearance in the 1930s.

Two world wars which brought food shortages and rationing will also have determined what they ate.

Growing up in the 1950s our breakfast diet was very much those new cereals, from Sugar Puffs, and Cornflakes to a bewildering selection of alternatives, partly chosen because of the free toys which were contained in the box.

Granddad always ate porridge which he made the night before while dad, if he ate the stuff always insisted on eating it with salt.

More often than not Dad just had toast, left to go cold and then eaten with butter and perhaps ginger marmalade.

Breakfast with a toy; circa1957
And I have followed my father.  In his case it may have been influenced by the years he spent abroad eating “Continental breakfasts” in hotels from France to Italy.

I never asked him what he made of the idea of having cake on the breakfast menus and I must confess I found it a surprise the first time I encountered it but then the step from jam and toast to cake is just one sweet thing next.

Advice in 1947
Rosa and Simone and the Italian side of the family often skip breakfast entirely making do with a large cup of milky coffee into which they will dunk the bread from yesterday.

This “zuppa di latte”** has never attracted me and I am looked after by Rosa with toast made on a special griddle and butter which is bought in only when we stay.

Although if we do go out for breakfast I am always tempted by the big breakfast bomboloni,  filled with custard, or apricot jam.

The good breakfast
Joe and Mary Ann I doubt ever ate breakfast out unless they were on holiday, nor do I think she would have relied on those Ministry of Food Information sheets issued during and just after the war, which gave advice on how to make interesting meals from rationed food.

The 1947 leaflet offered up a choice of breakfast meals with a fish theme, including Frilled Fish, Herring Roe Savoury, Hard Roe, Grilled Pilchards on Toast and Grilled Pilchards on Fried Bread.

None of which appeal to me, but then I have always been a jam, cake and custard donuts chap.

That said I rather like the idea of the leaflet on Hedgerow Harvests which combines all the fun of a walk in the countryside with the idea that the food is free.

But that as they say is for another time.

Location; Chorlton

Pictures; from the collection of Andrew Simpson


**“zuppa di latte”, milky soup

Down on Beech Road at the pet shop

Now I have long and fond memories of the pet shop on Beech Road.

For years when the children were still young it was a place we visited for everything from dog food to cat litter and a whole assortment of other stuff needed to cater for the gerbils, rabbits, and hamsters which turned up at the door and were taken in.

I always drew the line at goldfish but that never stopped me taking the children down into the cellars of the shop to look at the magic of all those exotic and multi coloured fish.

Looking back I guess that this was partly a cheap trip out but also a bit of an attempt to recreate my own childhood although in my case it was the regular trip to the cattle market in the town my grandparents lived.

So less pets and more farmers but the idea remains the same, and in turn it reminded me of the variety of different shops we had on Beech Road as late as the 1970s.

Now of course today there is still variety but  where once we had a range of food shops along with a hardware store, one selling televisions and another dealing with all things wool, that traditional scene has gone.

So I like the idea that we have a pet shop which is still pretty much as it was when I first starting going in there and so have decided to return to Peter’s painting from 2012.

Paintings; Pet Shop, Beech Road © 2012 Peter Topping, Paintings from Pictures,
Facebook:  Paintings from Pictures

In the parish graveyard

I wish I had spent more time exploring the parish grave yard.

But when you are growing up wandering past the monuments to the long dead is not very high on the agenda.

And yet for the historian they are a powerful insight into what a community was like in the past and Eltham’s is no different.

Here for centuries were buried the good, the wealthy and those whose rank and occupation was such that they have left few records.

But some at least of those that lived here will be recorded both in the parish records and in the grave stones.

Not that I intend to name them or for that matter to dwell on their lives but more to reflect on what can be learnt from combining the inscriptions with those held in the church books.

Once upon a time the researcher had to visit the individual parishes, or walk through the often overgrown church plots seeking a family member or just getting a sense of things like life expectancy and the pattern of
names.

Now of course most records are held on microfilm in local history libraries and increasingly are being digitalised.

All of which makes possible for the historian  to track individuals from the comfort of a kitchen table.

Now there are those who regret this development, but I am not one of them. What once took months of slow laborious work can be undertaken in a few hours and opens up parts of the country which would otherwise be a train away.

Of course there is still a thrill at holding an old document secure in the knowledge that perhaps only a handful of people have touched its pages in two centuries.

Likewise to stand in front of the gravestone of a long lost family member is to get close to them.

All of which I think has written me into a new series of stories, matching those buried in the grounds of St John’s with the stories of their lives from the census returns, rate books and casual comments of their contemporaries.

And for all those who like a bit of homework, I recommend a visit to the parish graveyard and a walk with history.

Pictures courtesy of Jean Gammons

Port Street ...... waiting for something to happen

Now it is a while since I have been down on Port Street.

Nu 64 Port Street, and a car park, which was once a canal, 2018
The last time I was there,  there was that feel that this was a place waiting for something to happen.

Most of the buildings had gone, replaced by car parks, which as everyone knows must be a prelude to a big building boom.

I think I counted 4 buildings on the stretch from Faraday Street up to Great Ancoats Street.

A few years before there had been more, and while there is now a nearly completed  development on the corner with Great Ancoats Street, the rest looks empty and forlorn.

That development at the end of Port Street, 2018
And I don’t suppose I would have given Port Street much more of a thought, had it not been for Andy’s picture which he took last week of what I think is no 64.

Not that long ago it was part of a block from where Goldfayre Trading were located, but now part of the building has gone and what is left won’t be long for the demolisher’s ball.

So as you do, I wandered back in time.  In 1851 this row of properties was home to an iron merchants, a druggist, two spindle makers, and assorted shops.

Nu 75 Port Street, opposite 
While directly behind, were two arms of the Rochdale Canal, one of which finished at the back of number 64 while the other ran parallel to Port Street down to Brewer Street.  Between them they served two timber yards, a stone and lime yard and Burn’s Cotton Mill.

They were still there in 1894 and number 64 was still an iron merchants run by the firm of Hall and Pickles who are listed at the address a full 40 years earlier.

The building is now empty but as Andy’s picture shows it is still there.

Although, I wouldn’t put money on it being so for much longer.

Location; Manchester

Picture; Port Street from the collection of Andy Robertson

Mrs Blomely’s pond, the secret of the Edge Lane Lake and other little known stories ........ the Quirks Sunday walk with the past

In the graveyard, with murdered Mary Moore and a burial scandal
The sun shone, the interested turned out, and the first of the new series of history walks was a success.

The trip through our past started at the Narnia lamp post on the green, made its way down to the old parish church yard and then by degree up past the Horse & Jockey, circumnavigating the Edge Lane Lake hard by Scotch Hill and culminating at the Lloyd’s Hotel.

It is a walk I have conducted before but it is never quite the same each time I do it.

And that makes it fun because setting aside the basic bits of history I am never quite sure what we will encounter.

On the green, trespassing in Sam Wilton's garden
This time it was the murder of Mary Moore, the scandalous treatment of the Methodists who were cheated out of their Sunday School, a split over where to build the new parish church, and the day the Mersey flooded with no warning.

Along the way there was lots about farming in Chorlton, the story of New Chorlton and of course the Edge Lane Lake and Mrs Blomely's pond.

Not to forget the day Sam Wilton stole the village green from the people of Chorlton and how we got it back almost 90 years later.

Which just leaves me to thank the “historical crowd”, who walked the walk, and announce that number 2 will be in May and will feature Marledge, taking in Kemp’s Corner, some banks, a library, two picture palaces and that place called the Isles.

At Lauriston House looking up at the features
As ever it will be free, fun and finish no more than hour after we start.

Now, that can’t be bad ....... back for Sunday dinner or Poldark on the telly ..... whichever comes first.

Location; Chorlton

Pictures, in the graveyard and at the Laursiton Club, 2018 from from the collection of John Hulls and in Mr Wilton's garden, 2018, courtesy of  Peter Topping

Saturday, 24 March 2018

Pictures of Eltham I wish I had taken ................ passing our parish church

You can never get enough pictures of Eltham and so here is another from Ryan.

And that is all I want to say.

Except he did show me some interesting letters posted recently in SE 9 about the history of the clock which I may well pursue.












Picture; St John’s, 2014, Ryan Ginn

Always look up

Here if you ever needed it, is another of those simple lessons in always looking up.

I have passed these buildings so many times and have never really looked up to admire them.

Usually I am hurrying past and get no further than garish mix of signage at ground level.

Although I do have to admit for a while in the late 1970s and early ‘80s I regularly called in at Grassroots the alternative book shop.

But then the demands of a young family precluded leisurely saunters through town on Saturday mornings, and then when I did go back the bookshop had gone.

Still the buildings are there and in the March sunlight Andy caught them at their best.

Now I do have to confess to being a tad lazy and have not gone looking for their history, but someone will know it and tell me.

Location; Manchester

Pictures; Always look up, 2018, from the collection of Andy Robertson

Friday, 23 March 2018

The mystery behind the Maypole on Wilbraham Road

Now I grant you as mysteries go it ain’t Agatha Christie or even a Sexton Blake but I am intrigued by the wrought iron arch behind the Maypole grocery shop at number 41 Wilbraham Road.

Maypole Dairy, 41 Wilbraham Road
The shop opened in 1909 and was still trading fifty years later and is now part of LewisBet, the Bookmakers.

Today the gap between the Maypole Diary and what is now Barclays Bank is a small retail unit.

When this was constructed is unclear but in 1959 it is there and part of the grocery shop.

But that doesn’t help with my bit of ornate iron work.

It may of course still be there and I suppose I should pop down and explore, or at the very least ask the owners of R J’s the barber shop to have a look out back.

That ironwork
But where would the mystery be in that?

Even if it is still there, that doesn’t help with the question of why it was erected.

Maps of the period do not help although the 1907 map does hint at something beside the bank and back then this was the Manchester and County Bank who may have decided on putting up a bit of decorative iron work, but I somehow doubt it.

Of course Mr Lloyd who added this to his collection may have mistaken this Maypole Dairy for another, opening up the possibility that this isn’t Wilbraham Road, but I doubt it.

So for now it is still a mystery or as we see say in the business another Quirky bit of Chorlton-cum-Hardy.

But that would stray into an outrageous bit of self promotion which would involve mentioning the new book, the Quirks of Chorlton-cum-Hardy, and the first of our saunters through the past, which is this Sunday at 1 pm starting from the Narnia Lamppost on Chorlton Green.

There are a few spaces left for this free walk and to get your place text 07521 557888

This is the first of a series planned, one of which will be on the quirky bits of Wilbraham Road, by which time we may have solved the mystery.

We shall see.

Location; Chorlton-cum-Hardy

Picture; the Maypole Dairy Wilbraham Road, circa 1909, from the Lloyd Collection

*The Quirks of Chorlton-cum-Hardy, is available from Chorlton Bookshop or from www.pubbooks.co.uk/ or 07521557888

There has always been a developer .....on Port Street in the summer of 1851

Now the current wave of new build in the city shouldn’t blind us to that simple truth that the Victorian and Edwardian developer got there first, and no doubt when George lll was poised to lose us the American colonies, smart young 18th century speculators were happy to sweep away our Tudor past.

Port Street, 2018
And had we been privy to their discussions I bet phrases like “exciting new development”, “properties fit for the new century soon to dawn” and a “regeneration which would deliver new jobs with affordable homes” would have whizzed around the room.

All of which is an introduction to the new series of pictures taken by Andy Robertson of the streets around Stevenson Square, which was just one of those late 18th century developments.

Port Street, 1851
Wandering around Newton Street and onto Hilton and Port Street, Andy captured some of those bold new buildings which promised much.

His first is that stretch of Port Street from Hilton Street to Faraday Street which offers up some early 19th century properties with others from a later period.

Back in the 1850s, just beyond the pink walls of the Crown and Anchor were a row of properties which are now the site number 50 Hilton Street.

It was built in 1907 and has those impressive huge arched windows.

And if you continue past the Crown and Anchor, having taken in the two storey houses you arrive at that tall Victorian building which replaced similar modest properties.

Old and very old, Port Street, 2018
I haven’t yet got a date for its construction.  I know it post dates 1851 and it will just be a matter of trawling the directories and the Rate Books to find when it was built.

So Andy’s picture pretty much has the lot.

And yes if you cross the road there are some fine early 19th century properties.

Location; Manchester

Picture; Port Street, 2018 from the collection of Andy Robertson, and the area in 1851 from Adsheads map of Manchester, 1851, courtesy of Digital Archives Association, http://digitalarchives.co.uk/